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Information on how a Board works for parents


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Tony Naidu

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” - Dalai Lama XIV

My purpose is to make a difference. My passion is to share the knowledge, skills and experience I have to help others achieve success where I can.

I always take an active role whether I am teaching, consulting, managing or in a governance position. It is important to me that life has enjoyment, however, a solid foundation must be built in order to do that. I am not afraid ask tough questions, hold others and myself accountable and I push others to dream bigger.

I am a student of business, holding both undergraduate and graduate business degrees, however, I get more satisfaction from rolling up my sleeves and successfully implementing a plan.

I have been on the Board of Trustees for Gulf Harbour School (GHS) since 2013, serving as Board Chair since 2017.  Contributing to GHS combines two of my passions, education and my children.

I am proud of the progress the school has made since 2013, and since then there have been a few highlights for me:

  • Appointment of Mel Crosbie as Principal and the strengthening of the school leadership team that has been enabled to achieve outstanding outcomes for the children of GHS.

  • Roll growth to around 600 students (up from 380 in 2016, which included Years 7/8 students). 

  • Introduction of cohort entry for new entrant classes, allowing children, parents and teachers to have a smoother introduction to GHS when they turn 5.

  • Development of an annual fundraising plan that includes PTA activities, Sponsorship, and Grant Funding (e.g. new spider web).  

  • New property improvements including the flexible learning space, upgrades to the toilet blocks, new senior playground and new outdoor covered secret garden area.

  • The ability to be able to fund property development, additional resources and pilot programmes, is through the sound financial management of school leadership, under the supervision of the Finance Committee that is led by Dave Saunders and includes Mel Crosbie and myself.  The school has never been in a better financial position and this was achieved without ever compromising educational goals.


Dave Saunders

My name is Dave Saunders and when I’m not being a member of the Gulf Harbour School board, I am either being a father to Kieran & Ayla or working as a business and tax consultant. My family and I live on the North Shore.

Education and schooling are crucial, particularly in the early years. A good school helps develop resilient children and build strong communities. The best contribution that I can make is through ensuring that the school is effectively governed.

I don’t have children at Gulf Harbour School. Because of this, my views are objective – I have no vested interest. My only interest is to ensure that the school delivers for its students, their families and its community.

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Tony Cheetham

Bula Vinaka!

My name is Tony Cheetham, my partner Vicky and I live in Army Bay and currently have two children attending Gulf Harbour School.
I firmly believe that a good, well rounded education is essential for success in the world we live in and Primary level education is instrumental for building a solid foundation for all education and learning moving forward. It is essentially where we ‘learn to learn’ – there is no single correct way to do this, it is different for every child and I believe Gulf Harbour School recognises and encourages this diversity in our children.
Gulf Harbour School has been an extremely positive influence in my children’s development, I want to ensure this continues, and I am keen to give back and be involved in this process. I am already actively involved with the school - currently coaching Flippaball and Basketball, I have also previously been involved with coaching Rippa Rugby teams, have attended several camps as a volunteer and together with my family have been actively involved in numerous school fundraising activities, in particular the Gala and Colour Run events. I am also a proud member of “Unsinkables” Gulf Harbour School Social Waterpolo team.
Sport has been, and continues to be, an important part of my life - both competing myself and in various coaching roles. While I played a variety of sports growing up - rugby, basketball, cricket, softball, I got involved in dragon boating as a teenager and went on to successfully compete in dragon boat regattas both nationally and internationally. I also spent many years coaching dragon boating to a national level across both secondary school and adult teams. I have jumped at the opportunity to get more involved in coaching since having children of my own - I really enjoy coaching kids and love seeing the look on a students face when they have a ‘light bulb’ moment and all their effort and commitment comes together, I get as much of a kick seeing a group of kids work together and support each other coming together as a team, and the pure enjoyment they get from playing sport - regardless of the result.
l bring a strong work ethic, calm demeanour and youthful enthusiasm to the Board of Trustees which has helped shape my career as a NZ Police Officer. I have a vested interest in encouraging, protecting and being actively involved in our community – both personally as a father and a member of this community, and professionally as a Police Officer.

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Matt Pedersen

I am currently a local resident of Gulf Harbour. I have four children, all four of which have attended GHS before moving on to college.

We, as a family have been immensely involved with the school and I have supported school  by coaching teams, school camps and also through integrated programmes that the school offers.


I originally trained as a teacher but ironically never taught in a classroom –  however since then I have been successful in owning and managing my own hospitality businesses for over 12 years in Wellington, Horowhenua and the Wairarapa.

I then transitioned into Corporate Sales and Management for the last 13 years. Currently I lead a strategic team of six for a global legal research and content Provider called LexisNexis.

My sales and training team support the leading national Tertiary Academic Institutions, a suite of over 65 Government Agencies, the National Bodies and Associations in the Barrister and Legal Profession and delivers new business across these segments and also Corporate. 

My wife, along with 2 other business partners, currently own a very well supported and recognised Performing Arts School with studios locally in Whangaparaoa and Takapuna.

This business supports over 600 children in the wider North Shore/Rodney District to develop life skills and confidence through Trinity drama, singing and dance exams and through live performances and productions.

I want to offer my skill set, to focus on the 3 areas below:

  1. Securing the holistic Growth and Development of all GHS Staff, Student Learners and wider Whanau.

  2. Providing Strategic Vision and Support for GHS.

  3. Continuing to Connect the Community through the School Network, activities outside of school and community projects. Please if you feel you need to contact me to discuss any elements of supporting the school, I look forward to talking with you.

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Abi Copley

Kia ora,


I’m Abi Copley and I am the Staff Representative on our School Board. 


You will see me around school a lot, as I currently teach in the Purapura Year 2 whānau and lead the Purapura Whanua team. I began relief teaching at GHS in 2017 when my family moved back to the Coast from the North Shore. I instantly felt welcomed by the staff and parent community here and, after a short time off on maternity leave, feel lucky to call GHS my home. 


I live with my husband and our two children; Aldous and Wren. We live locally in Arkles Bay and still feel like we live ‘on holiday’, having come to New Zealand from a very wet valley in Northern England! That was almost eight years ago and I’m still getting used to a Summer Christmas. 


I feel honoured to serve on the School Board and to be the bridge between ‘Governance’ and our hard working staff on the ground. It’s my role to be the voice of these two groups, and help support them to better understand each other and make the best decisions for all involved. At GHS we have great people who put our children at the heart of everything we do, and that helps make my job the best in the world. 

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Thilina Ekanayake

My name is Thilina Ekanayake, and I have worked in the Whangaparaoa community for 16 years as a Community Pharmacist. Personally, I have a daughter attending GHS and my wife is on staff as a teacher.  I have seen the Whangaparaoa area grow considerably and knowing that it will continue to grow, I would like to be part of that, helping Gulf Harbour school to succeed with expected influx.  


I have been a keen participant for many years playing for Hibiscus Coast AFC.  One thing I have found through being on the Coast, is that building relationships in the community is key to growth.  Hibiscus Coast AFC has a range of players that work in a diverse range of industries, and these relationships often extend from the field into business which can be invaluable in a small community.


As a health professional my role involves communicating with the general public as well as many health professionals, from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds.  Behind the scenes as a Manager, it is my job to create systems to increase productivity, aim for more positive and beneficial patient outcomes, whilst integrating with a range of technological systems and external providers.  I enjoy creating systems that make life easier for all, whilst meeting required goals. As the pandemic showed, these systems need to sometimes be created swiftly whilst anticipating many risks. As well as my ongoing professional development for Pharmacist registration I have also completed accreditation in ISO quality systems.  I hope that I would be able to provide valuable input for the NZ Health curriculum refresh, or at the very least know how to find people who can offer insight. Our children are experiencing higher rates of mental fatigue and issues, especially post COVID, and it would be great to be a part of a team that can build policies and processes into Gulf Harbour School and the community, to safeguard our children and prepare them for the complex challenges they face.  


Thilina Ekanayake

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